Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) – Research analysts at Leerink Swann lifted their FY2016 EPS estimates for shares of Merck & Co. in a report released on Thursday. Leerink Swann analyst S. Fernandez now anticipates that the brokerage will post earnings of $3.74 per share for the year, up from their previous forecast of $3.73. Leerink Swann currently has a “Hold” rating and a $58.00 target price on the stock.

Several other equities research analysts also recently issued reports on the company. Citigroup Inc. reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, August 10th. BMO Capital Markets upgraded Merck & Co. from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and upped their price target for the stock from $62.00 to $72.00 in a report on Friday, August 5th. Jefferies Group cut their price objective on Merck & Co. from $54.00 to $53.00 and set a “hold” rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, June 14th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 price objective on Merck & Co. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Finally, Vetr raised Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $62.26 price objective on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 4th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of €63.20 ($70.23).

Earnings History and Estimates for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.77 on Monday. The company has a market cap of $173.57 billion, a PE ratio of 34.43 and a beta of 0.68. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $47.97 and a 12 month high of $64.00. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $62.66 and a 200-day moving average price of $58.40.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The company had revenue of $9.84 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $0.86 earnings per share. Merck & Co.’s revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.93%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 101.10%.

In other news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of €61.81 ($68.68), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,921,688.89). Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at approximately €47,029,807.37 ($52,255,341.52). The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of €63.03 ($70.03), for a total value of €189,090.00 ($210,100.00). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 174,819,694 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,071,362,000 after buying an additional 3,242,254 shares during the period. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 74,363,785 shares of the company’s stock valued at $4,284,098,000 after buying an additional 535,407 shares during the period. BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 4.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 44,732,600 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,577,045,000 after buying an additional 1,701,520 shares during the period. BlackRock Group LTD raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 2.0% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 27,068,748 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,432,206,000 after buying an additional 525,220 shares during the period. Finally, Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 6.2% in the second quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA now owns 26,224,184 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,510,776,000 after buying an additional 1,531,565 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.93% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co.

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

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